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### Unveiling the True Expenses of Studying Overseas

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Imagine this scenario: you are a high school junior — or maybe a senior if you’re ahead of the game —

and you are touring a college campus. Amidst the enticing promises of a transformative university experience and the hefty tuition fees, one of the highlights they emphasize is the chance to participate in a study abroad program. This was precisely my encounter at Butler University.

With a sense of wonder, I envisioned a future filled with exploring the Roman Colosseum, swimming alongside dolphins, all while engaging in meaningful learning experiences. Overall, I envisioned a future brimming with possibilities.

Embarking on a study abroad venture holds numerous attractions: immersing oneself in a foreign culture, savoring exotic cuisines, visiting historic landmarks, and inevitably depleting your bank account.

It’s no secret that international travel, in general, comes with a hefty price tag. As per global travelers, an average week-long trip to Europe costs $ — a mere fraction of the expenses incurred during a typical study abroad program. This estimate doesn’t even include the airfare, which can vary significantly in cost but undoubtedly plays a crucial role. Even if funding such a trip seems daunting, let’s assume you aspire to study abroad. Start by crafting an impressive course title, throw in a couple of lectures, perhaps a museum tour, and watch the trip cost skyrocket by approximately four thousand dollars.

However, there are undeniable benefits to studying abroad that one cannot easily replicate independently. The seasoned experts accompanying you can unveil hidden local gems, grant you access to exclusive venues, and most importantly, provide insights into a culture previously unexplored by you.

Yet, this enriching experience is not universally accessible to all students, and some may argue that it shouldn’t be. Fundamentally, it represents an additional educational opportunity that is not essential for a college degree. You could graduate in four years from Butler without ever contemplating the culturally immersive and intellectually stimulating experience your more affluent peers are relishing.

Regrettably, I find it challenging to overlook these disparities, particularly concerning issues of inequality. As a scholarship recipient — meaning, without this scholarship, I wouldn’t have the privilege to be here — I realized the same applies to study abroad programs. Without a full scholarship, embarking on such a journey would be financially out of reach for me. I can barely cover the cost of a plane ticket.

I am just one of many students on campus who simply lack the financial means to partake in the highly praised and culturally enriching experiences that seem to captivate everyone’s attention. But beyond my personal financial constraints, a more pressing question arises: why are these opportunities inaccessible to students not belonging to the upper echelons of wealth? What does a university stand to gain from students who are less informed, culturally aware, and globally engaged?

The straightforward answer, in my opinion, boils down to money. It’s conceivable that universities recognized the universal allure of traveling to exotic locales and thus made it accessible to students, albeit with a price tag equivalent to that of two pre-owned Honda Civics. However, the revenue stream isn’t solely derived from the participating students; it also extends to individuals like me, still in high school, who view these opportunities as the gateway to exploring the world. Frankly, the fervor with which my admission counselors promoted study abroad experiences was a significant factor in my decision to enroll here.

I’m certain I’m not alone in this sentiment, nor am I alone in acknowledging the harsh reality: barring miraculous scholarships from affluent benefactors, study abroad remains a privilege reserved for those with a certain level of financial means.

Victory Sampson, a junior majoring in strategic communication and multilingual studies who participated in a study abroad program, echoed this sentiment but offered a glimmer of hope.

“As a first-generation, Black, economically disadvantaged student, among other identifiers that could pose challenges for studying abroad, I believe that while study abroad should be accessible to all who aspire to partake in it, the reality is that it often caters to those who can afford it,” Sampson remarked. “However, I aim for my experience to serve as a testament that with prudent financial planning and support, studying abroad is not only feasible but also enjoyable.”

It’s crucial to emphasize that the financial constraints surrounding study abroad experiences are not the fault of our university’s study abroad department; they are dedicated individuals striving to assist students to the best of their abilities. This issue transcends campus boundaries and is a widespread phenomenon observed across various public and private universities. These departments do not conspire to withhold scholarship funds from students intentionally.

In response to addressing students’ financial needs, Study Abroad Advisor Bond St John shared insights on the measures taken by the Center for Global Education (CGE).

“The Center For Global Education (CGE) recognizes that students have diverse financial considerations,” St John stated in an email to The Butler Collegian. “In the past two years alone, we have had five generous donors establish new endowed scholarships, bringing our total to 10 distinct endowed scholarships that we utilize annually to provide financial assistance to students. Often, donors reminisce about their own impactful study abroad experiences during their college years and contribute to make such opportunities financially viable for more students.”

Furthermore, St John shed light on the specific figures involved, which merit attention.

“CGE disburses multiple endowed study abroad scholarships to Butler students, a majority of which are need-based,” St John elaborated. “During the Summer 2023, Fall 2023, and Spring 2024 terms, over $85,000 in endowed and college-specific scholarships were awarded to Butler students participating in study abroad programs.”

While these statistics are commendable, they still leave many students, including myself, without adequate financial support.

Offering her perspective, junior strategic communication major Alexis Worl shared practical advice for students facing financial hurdles even with CGE’s assistance.

“I would recommend applying for any and all available scholarships,” Worl suggested. “The worst outcome is a rejection, so casting a wide net with scholarship applications increases the likelihood of securing financial aid.”

It’s essential to recognize that study abroad programs vary in affordability — relatively speaking — and it’s imperative to leverage the resources at hand, whether through CGE or external scholarship opportunities.

However, if financial constraints persist, it’s perfectly acceptable not to pursue a study abroad experience. While those who embark on such journeys often describe it as an eye-opening adventure, your worth is not diminished if you opt out of studying abroad. You can thrive and excel right here, bulldogs. That’s the mantra I keep reminding myself of. Irrespective of your circumstances, universities wield significant influence and resources that most individuals can only dream of. They should leverage this power to facilitate opportunities for students that would otherwise remain out of reach, or alternatively, revise their admissions marketing to reflect a more transparent message: ‘Many of our students engage in study abroad experiences here, right after their vacations to .’